Screw-Ups

Joshua Sohn Josh Sohn Joshua S Sohn DLA Piper Above the Law blog.jpgLast Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard oral argument in Arar v. Ashcroft, a high-profile lawsuit arising out of the U.S. government’s rendition of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, to Syria.
We interviewed DLA Piper partner Joshua Sohn (at right), co-counsel to Mr. Arar along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, about this interesting case and his firm’s work on it.
For readers who aren’t familiar with the case, what’s it all about?
It’s about the federal government’s extraordinary renditions program, which sends “people of interest” to sites around the world for indefinite detention and interrogation under harsh conditions — in this case torture. Mr. Arar, who is a computer engineer, Canadian citizen, husband, and father of two young children, was pulled out of the immigration line at JFK when he was attempting to change planes, but not enter the United States. Mr. Arar was interrogated at the airport, detained and interrogated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, and ultimately flown by private jet in the dead of night to Jordan and delivered to Syria. Mr. Arar was never charged with a crime, was not allowed to consult with an attorney for many days when he was first detained and both he and his attorney were lied to about what was going to happen to him and the fact that he was being sent to Syria.
Mr. Arar made plain to those holding him that he feared being tortured in Syria and that he wanted to be sent to Canada-where he lived and was a citizen. Those pleas were ignored and Mr. Arar was sent to Syria where he was tortured and kept in a grave-like cell for almost a year. This case seeks to hold the federal officials who are responsible for Mr. Arar’s treatment, responsible.
Read the rest of the interview, after the jump.

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Wow. Sorry for the delay in new posts, but you guys have been going wild in the comments, and have thereby crushed our servers. We suck. Anyway, here’s some more on MacGate:
University of Kentucky law students received a memo earlier this week explaining the school’s decision to use Exam Soft (and thus impact Mac users in the same negative fashion as American University). The long and the short of it is that Exam Soft is better than the other two choices, and that putting Mac users out is a necessary evil. The other choices rejected by Kentucky were Secure Exam (the company responsible for the New York Bar Exam Laptopgate clusterf**k) and Extegrity. Extegrity works with Macs, but Kentucky memo’s description of the company makes it sound pretty fly-by-night:

The company
itself is very small, however, and has a small number of users. When
we asked the owner about addressing problems that might arise during
the administration of exams, he suggested that he would give us his
cell phone number and we could just call him on the west coast.

So what have we learned? First, if you’re going to law school, it’s probably going to be easier on you if you have a PC laptop instead of a Mac one (also, you might consider remembering how to use pen and paper; we did it for all of our law school exams and the bar exam). Second, some real company needs to write a program for taking exams on laptops that is compatible with Macs.
The full memo after the jump.

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macpc.gif

“Hello, I’m a Mac.”
“And I’m a PC. I may not be great at making newfangled new media graphics, but at least I won’t cost you extra when you’re taking law school exams at American University.”

Apparently American University is not the best place to go law school if you plan on using a Mac laptop. From a tipster:

My sister is a 2L and was told before she went to the school that a Macintosh would be compatible for test-taking. Turns out this is not the case and the students with Macs must either pay $200-300 to download the software to take exams or rent a non-Mac to take the exam. In essense, students with Macs must pay to take their exams.
This is an appalling situation as I am told that at least 1/3 of the students there have Macs. Also, when I called the Student Tech Support Analyst at the school and told them that I was a potential incoming student and was looking to buy a PC, they initially told me that as long as the Mac has XP, that exam taking would be fine.

Is this a huge injustice to Mac users, or should the Mac users just man up and pay, or take the exams on paper?
We’ve got a portion of an email exchange between an angry Mac student and a dean of the school after the jump to help you decide.

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laptop pink girl woman Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg
Lat is here (and apparently partying like a rock star), so you’ll have to put with me for the rest of the day.
The first order of the day is to announce that the New York Bar Exam results are up on the BOLE website.
We had anxious tipsters this morning who were quite worried (and can you blame them, really?) that there was another screw-up with the exam. The link was already there to go to the results page, but clicking on it produced a large, red-lettered “ERROR” message. It appears from later tips that we received, though, that the results were available promptly at 9:00 a.m. just as it was previously announced they would be.
Ok, so they managed to get the results up, but what’s up with Laptopgate? Anybody got any updates?
Earlier: Update: What’s Going on with the New York Bar Exam Results?
Update: In our haste to get the post up, we missed an update on Laptopgate in the BOLE press release. The relevant paragraph is after the jump. The quick and dirty version: about a third of the 47 exam takers who had essay answers that were not retrieved passed even assuming a 0 score on those essays; about another third failed even assuming a perfect score on the essays; and for the final third, they guessed based on performance on the rest of the exam.

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From an ATL reader going through the law firm recruiting process right now:

I’ve enjoyed reading about various law firm recruiting snafus on Above the Law over the last few months. I just never thought I would be lucky enough to encounter one of my own.

I recently came home to an unusually thick envelope from Arnold & Porter (DC). Inside there was a typical ethnicity request form (to be mailed back to them for recordkeeping), a return envelope, and finally, much to my surprise — a refrigerator warranty!

Yep, that’s right. While other firms are busy sending recruits bonsai trees, iPods, and designer cookies, Arnold & Porter sends its rejects their appliance warranties.

Our tipster sent along a scanned copy of the warranty registration form:
Arnold Porter refrigerator warranty Above the Law blog.jpg
Earlier: Public Humiliation, Courtesy of Your Friends at Wilson Sonsini
Fall Recruiting Snafu Watch: You Know They Really Don’t Want You When…
Not Everyone’s A Winner at Nixon Peabody

laptop pink girl woman Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgIf you visit the New York State Board of Law Examiners website, using Internet Explorer (it doesn’t seem to work with Firefox), you’ll see this message scrolling across the status bar at the bottom of your screen (be sure to have the status bar activated under “View”):

July 2007 examination results will be available here for candidate private lookup on Thursday, November 15th at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, the general passing list will be posted on Friday, November 16 at 9:00 a.m…..

Thanks to the many tipsters who wrote us about this. Especially this person:

On another note, what kind of crappy web designer does BOLE have?! Probably the same ones who programmed the SecurExam software that screwed up all the laptop exams this year…

Indeed. Compare this site with this one.
New York Board of Law Examiners [official website]
July 2007 New York Bar Exam Fiasco [unofficial website]
Earlier: What’s Going on with the New York Bar Exam Results?

Some etiquette tips for law school deans:

peanut Mr Peanut warning contains peanuts you will die Above the Law blog.jpg1. If you send one of your students to another law school, for a year-long stint as a visiting student, don’t “apologize” for it — even if that student has a severe peanut allergy, requiring the receiving school to “peanut-proof” itself for the year.

2. If you really must issue an “apology,” do so by phone or in person, not by email.

3. If you really must issue an “apology” by email, send it to the individual dean. Do not send it to a listserv consisting of the deans of ABA-accredited law schools.

Because it might get leaked to ATL:
peanut allergy email snafu Above the Law blog.jpg
ATL readers: Please take this opportunity to engage in a spirited debate over whether schools, airlines, and other institutions go too far — or not far enough — in accommodating people with extreme food allergies. Thank you.Peanut Girl Dean Mark Sargent Villanova University School of Law.jpg

laptop pink girl woman Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgBased on your recent comments, it’s clear that many of you want to talk about New York bar exam results, which should be announced later this month. Many of you are wondering whether the scandal we dubbed “Laptopgate,” concerning problems with the software used by candidates who took the test on their computers, might delay the announcement of the results.
There’s nothing up about the subject over at the website of the New York State Board of Law Examiners. But in recent years, the results were released in mid-November. Archived press releases show that results for the last two July exams were announced on or about November 15, 2006, and November 18, 2005. So they’re not late yet, based on past practice.
But there are reasons for concern. From a reader::

I was one of those who had an answer overwritten during the July 2007 NY Bar examination. I received an email from NYBoLE in the end of August stating “this will confirm that we are in receipt of all of your printed (and/or handwritten) answers to essay questions 1 through 5 and the MPT.” [But then] I received another email from NYBoLE stating that they need me to upload my exam again to “verify that we have your complete essays” and that I “may have inadvertently received an email from us confirming that we are in receipt of your essays.”

Heard of this happening to anyone else?

Why yes, we have. In fact, we received several emails from ATL readers who sat for the New York bar exam in July 2007, describing similar situations.
A little more, after the jump.

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gay football 2 Abercrombie Ftich Above the Law blog.jpgActually, as it turns out, Judge Jeffrey Levenson DID say he was sorry — immediately after making the ill-considered gay football / “wide receiver” crack that made him our Judge of the Day. And he apologized repeatedly during the course of the hearing, too.
But that hasn’t stopped the hue and cry. From the Daily Business Review:

Bar leaders and the public defender issued new calls Thursday for sensitivity training for Broward judges after Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson made an off-color joke in his courtroom about a teenage boy who allegedly had sex with an adult male defendant.

“If this incident doesn’t scream loudly how desperately we need diversity and sensitivity training in this circuit, then I don’t know what will,” said Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. “In a matter of a year or two years, we had a judge insult Haitian-Americans, another insult African-Americans, had a third judge insulting blacks, Hispanics and Catholics, and a fourth judge insulting gay people.”

Maybe Judge Levenson should skip the sensitivity training and become a television judge. After all, TV judges get PAID to insult the litigants.
Food for thought: Why does Florida produce so many TV judges? It is because of their penchant, noted by PD Howard Finkelstein, for being rude and abusive?
The following are former Floridian jurists who left the state bench for the boob tube: Marilyn Milian, of the People’s Court (previously discussed here); Alex Ferrer, a/k/a “Judge Alex”; David Young, the gay TV judge; and the notorious Anna Nicole Smith judge, Larry Seidlin (not on air yet, but rumored to arrive in fall 2008).
Broward Courts: New chief’s honeymoon over [Daily Business Review]
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Jeffrey Levenson

gay football Above the Law blog.jpgOne of the perks of being a judge is that everyone has to laugh at your jokes. Except when they’re in poor taste and arguably offensive.
If you’re going to make an attempt at humor in the courtroom, proceed with caution — even if you’re the one wearing the robe. From Rumpole (via S.D. Fla. Blog):

Well, those fine folks North Of the Border have done it again.

This time it is Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Levenson, who put his robed foot in his mouth by making an inappropriate joke about the Defendant in a sexual battery case during the charge conference….

To summarize, apparently the Defendant is a high school football player, and the case involved the allegation of illegal sexual contact with another male. Judge Levenson asked what position the defendant played. He was told “linebacker” and another person in the courtroom said “Tight End” at which point Judge Levenson said “Wide Receiver?”

A little bit more, after the jump.

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